The “eyes” have it and please don’t step on the cockroach.

My husband and I were on  a walk the other night, trying to stay healthy and fight off the effects of time and gravity when we stumbled upon a very strange looking bug. It was an albino cockroach, and it was  actually really cool. Now I hate cockroaches, to be honest – I loathe them and will kill them any chance I get. They are gross, disgusting, disease carrying, creepy crawlies, but  this one was almost … ..pretty, it  “glistened” under the street light and had an opal look to it.

Acting like most men do, (or boys I should say) my husband kicks it, he said that it was to get it closer into the light for a better look, but it went flying somewhere into the dark and we lost it. The albino cockroach was gone.

I began thinking, how could I  find something so disgusting  fascinating  and even pretty? How beauty could  be found anywhere even in a cockroach.  I remembered a conversation I had with sister regarding what is beauty is and maybe that it is not really in the “eye” of the beholder, but how the beholder approaches what they are looking at. I could have easily said “yew a cockroach” and made my husband step on it, but instead I approached it with a sense of  wonder.

So many times focus on our own fears, failures, and shortfalls. We lie to ourselves about the way others see us.  We are so insecure that we focus only on our negatives and over look all the positives. It does not matter if we have 100 positives and only 1 negative, we will fixate on the 1 negative.  One of my best friends stated it correctly when she said “insecurity is the devils playground”.

So how do we get over our own insecurities and how to we find the beauty in others? I think that love is the answer. I know it sounds cheesy, like that 1970’s song, named “Love is the Answer” but really think about it.  If you accept and love yourself for who you really are, shortfalls and all, you will begin see yourself differently.  If you extend that same love and acceptance to others you will begin to see them in a different light as well.

I want to see myself the way God sees me and I want to see others the way  God sees them. God made us all, every nationality, every skin color, hair type, eye color, size, shape, every defect, and every personality. He tells us over and over again how wonderfully made and “beautiful”  we are and all we have to do is believe him.

So, if you see an albino cockroach, please don’t step on him.

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If you know the history of ring Around the Rosie, it is a very morbid little game. It started during the black plague and “ashes, ashes we all falls down” is about death. The children on the outside of the circle are suppose to pretend to die at the end of song.

With all the talk of the deaths of Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse and how their self destruction ended their very gifted lives. I started thinking how even the most stable and sensible of us will fall, it is unenviable. The questions though are: How far will we fall? How fast do we go down? How hard will we land and do we survive it?

When we were little and learning how to ride a bike we fell. But we were told how important it is to get back on the bike and keep going. Over and over we would crash and cry from our cuts and bruises. Usually there was someone we loved there to comfort us and motivate us to get back on the bike and try again.
We learned not to give up because our desire to ride the bike was more important than the temporary pain of our fall.

As we get older our falls get bigger and the landings harder, we lose jobs, we lose spouses, we lose parents, we are diagnosed with diseases and our body and spirit ache with the thought of having to go on . As adults we are expected to self motivate ourselves and are looked at as week if we ask for help or a hand up. Many times we fall so hard, so many times, we lose all desire and we simply stop trying to get up. It is easier just to stay on the ground than go through any more pain. But then we are just in pain AND on the ground.
Anyone who knows me wells, knows I am a klutz, I walk into walls on a regular basis and I am probably the only person in history to fall “up” the stairs on a regular basis. I am used to having to pick myself up over and over again. But a physical fall, like the one from the bike or the stair case is far easier to recover from than an emotional or spiritual fall. Bruises and cuts heal, our bodies were wonderfully made by God with a built in healing system. We can watch our physical wounds slowly heal as the pain subsides. However the wounds that are deep in our hearts and souls somehow never heal all the way. They haunt us like ghosts in our minds reminding us of what we have done or what was done to us. Leaving us feeling empty and alone.

I struggle spiritually from time to time and tend fall back into my same old habits. Sometimes a glass (or a bottle of chardonnay) goes down a heck of a lot easier than dealing with the day. But after the bottle is gone, the issues are still there and the only things I have to show for it are wasted money (which could go to an new pair of shoes or earrings), empty calories, and a head ache to top it off. Not a smart choice in retrospect but then a few months go by and it will seem tempting again, but hopefully the pain of the last fall will keep me from doing it again.

“Ashes, ashes, we all fall down. Falling down is not the tragedy, it is the choosing not get up that is the real tragedy.

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I heard Ob-la-de, Ob-la-da on the radio the other day. It was the favorite song of a friend and a mentor who passed away, way too young. It reminded me that our lives could be snatched away from us at any time, just like that, in the blink of an eye.

I spent the next few days thinking about that, and thinking about the very real possibility that cancer could take my life at anytime. I thought about how I should be living and what I should be doing. It is easy to think, if I had a year to live I would quit my job, move to a tropical island and spend my remaining days soaking up the sun and drinking tropical drinks out of coconut shells with those little umbrellas in them.

But I don’t think that is the answer. I think enjoying life is much more of an continual attitude than where you are at or even what you are doing. It is breathing life in and consciously extracting as much love and joy out of every moment you can and leaving as much of the bad along the wayside

I remember a Dateline NBC special I watched on what is happiness. They asked children, what is happiness and what makes you happy. I remember one little girl had the answer. When asked why she was so happy, she simply stated, because I want to be! Is it really that simple? Choosing to be happy. Choosing to look at the good instead of the bad. Easier said than done. I start my day off right with a good attitude and by noon and 10 phone calls later my good attitude is waning. Add a few depressing news stories, 3 barking dogs, 2 screaming kids and a drama queen “in a pear tree“ (sorry it just flowed) but you get the picture. My good attitude is shot down and life takes over.

So happiness hangs over us like the ever eluding carrot dangled in front of the donkey. But maybe the donkey has it right. He keeps his eye on the carrot and keeps trudging along contently, not worrying about the number of packs on his back or how far he has left to go.

I guess what I am saying here is that the secret to happiness is being childish and acting like an ass, perhaps not one of my better analogies, but Dave would have approved.

And just so you know, midget tossing is still illegal in Florida. RIP

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Driving Lessons

My husband claims I am a terrible driver, which is probably true, but I think he is the one that is bad. I think this conflict boils down to the differences in our styles of driving. He is a no nonsense by the rules driver and can be a bit aggressive, which I think is just a guy thing. I am a much more passive driver and am easily distracted and side tracked. Going from point A to B can lead to C, D, F and a new pair of shoes.

I was driving the other day (probably haphazardly) thinking about our differences and it came to my mind that the way we drive can many times be compared to how we live our lives. How we go about our days, how we treat others, obtain our goals, and where our priorities are.

There are some people that are so driven to get to where (or what) they want that they are willing to break laws, take short cuts, or hurt people to do it. There are others who are less aggressive but the destination is still their main focus and things like faith, family, and friendship are ignored or passed by because the goal is more important.

There are those that plot their courses and have maps in hand, but get distracted along the way by all the shiny things on the side of the road. They might get to where they want to go or they might not. Maybe they get half way there and say this is okay for now or maybe they make it to their destination, but it takes them a lot longer than they planned.

There are some people that have no idea where they are going. They drive around aimlessly or in circles doing the same nonproductive thing over and over, afraid of asking for directions, wasting time, wasting resources, and going nowhere.

Some people spend so much time looking in the rear view mirror they can’t see what is coming up on them until it is too late. Wondering constantly what would have happened if they had only taken that other road. They forget about the road they are on, loose sight of where they are going, and run the risk of running off the road or crashing into on coming traffic.

But it is not just our driving style that can throw us off course. There are things that get in the way. There are obstacles pop out of no where, flat tires, broken fan belts, dead batteries, or maybe just running out of gas. Some problems are minor enough to fix and get back on our way, some are so overwhelming that we are left stranded on the road not knowing what to do next.

I have thought a lot about they way I drive lately and the road I am traveling on. I think I need to slow down a bit so I don’t miss what is most important.

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Whats Left?

Occasionally I do appraisals for estate purposes and often times there are estate sales going on while I am there. I don’t like estate sales, the entire process seems morbid and sad to me. Someone’s house, filled with all of their memories, is opened up to strangers to rifle through and buy at less than garage sale prices. Everything has a price. Every memento and every special gift is reduced to a few pennies on the dollar with their true value and their stories left untold.

It makes me realize that all of the “things” and “possessions” we value are really not worth that much in the long run. What are the most valuable things in life are the intangible things. The memories we have with family and friends, spending time with those you love, leaving a legacy or leaving something that helps other. These are the things that things can never be sold or carried away by strangers. That is what real treasure is.

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When I was younger I was rough around the edges, but I had strong ideals and I had my own voice. I had something important to do and I was going to make my mark on the world, although I really had no clue at all what it was.

Slowly over time those rough edges and strong ideals wore away into smoother surfaces like stones in a river I have been polished down and refined.

Although I am wiser, and probably better off because of it, I sometimes wonder if I have simply grown complacent. So used to routine and into my own life that I stopped standing up for the things I once was passionate about.

I hope not.

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Who am I?

 I was a child when I first put make up on, but man I was a woman that walked out of the room. I was 13, and I was far too young to look like I did! Now, I see 3, 4 and 5 years old dolled up looking like mini 25 year olds.  I ask myself why?

The sexualization of our children is abhorrent, but TV shows such as “Toddlers and Tierra’s” is tailor made for sexual predators, pedophiles, and those who are in the making. Have we become so tolerant in our society that we would sell our own children out?

Oh, but that is not most of America, right? No, but most of America is accepting it! Where is the outrage, where are the Moms of America standing up and saying NO, this is not right and you are NOT doing this to children! Have we become so brow beaten by the extreme left that we cannot call a spade a spade? Are we so are afraid to be called intolerant that we are allowing children to be turn into sexual play things?

Today, In America there is an underground swelling of young girls being kidnapped, rapped, drugged and sold into prostitution. They are being kidnapped from malls and schools playgrounds. They are shot up with drugs to make them complicit and if they get out alive it is a miracle. Do you hear any outrage? Do you hear any news stories?

I am sickened by this.  Like the grizzly bear mama I am compelled to fight for those children who are not even mine, because they are children, they are helpless, and someone needs to do it! Yes even a 13 year old is still a child. Those babies whose own mothers have sold them out for profit, whether it be 15 minutes of fame on “Toddlers and Tierra’s” or that twenty dollar piece of crack that the drug addict mom sold her daughter for, it is the same. They have sold their children for money.

Where is the outrage? Where is NBC, ABC, CBS, DR. Phil, Dr. OZ, Oprah…nobody says a word, because sex sells and ratings mean money.  Follow the money and you will always find the agenda, the power….. or Satan, depending on who you are looking for.  It always has been that way and it always will be that way.

We ask ourselves, what do we believe?  But more importantly we must ask ourselves if what we believe is worth fighting for? To me it is. I would rather live a short life full of passion, substance and doing what is right, than a long agreeable complacent life.

The world can be changed one voice at a time, one stand at a time.

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2 x 4′s

 As most of you know I have had cancer a time or two. It is a very humbling experience to say the least.

One of the major turning points for me during this experience was just before my 1stsurgery. I was at the hospital and was waiting in radiology for tests. There were a lot of tests, each one more critical than the next, and each one a hurdle that had to be cleared in order for me to live.

 I felt like a pin cushion, my arms were heavily bruised from all the blood that had been drawn, I was tired, I was alone, I was scared, and I was feeling very sorry for myself.

 Then something happened that changed everything.  It all happened in slow motion, as many life changing events tend to do.  I was sitting the crowded radiology waiting room in a row of chairs that faced the elevator. The elevator bell chimed,  the doors opened, and standing inside were two girls about 12 to 14 years of age. I did not pay much attention to them at first,  but then one of the girls turned to walk out of the elevator.  She had been in some type of accident and her face looked like a jig saw puzzle that had been sewn together. It was something that you might see in a horror movie and I froze right there. 

It was as if God had hit me with a 2 X 4 and I felt so ashamed. Nothing that I could be going though could match what had happened to this child. How dare I feel sorry for myself.  I am an adult, I have done many bad things in my life and deserved so much worse than what was happening to me, but this girl, this child, she was a just a baby.  I thought about how she would spend her teenage years. I thought of how cruel other kids could be. I thought about what she must be feeling and about all of the hurdles she was going to have to clear.

I learned that day that no matter what I was going through, there will always be  people that are going through things that are just as hard, if not harder, than what I am going through and decided to never feel sorry for myself again.   

 Sometimes God speaks to us in little things ever so softly and sometimes……well, he needs to hit us in the head with a 2 X 4.

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Hair color and hand grenades…………………….

My husband calls me a “Femi-Nazi” now and then, which is a term coined by the  infamous Rush Limbaugh. Although I object strongly object to the characterization, I must admit I can be overly sensitive to the feminist point of view. I want to be respected for my accomplishments and my intelligence and not for the way I look. Standing atop my soap box proclaiming how society sends women mixed messages and creates unrealistic expectations, only to I find myself constantly watching my weight and keeping tabs on every grey hair.

Growing up I watched my female role models solve complex murder mysteries, defuse bombs, beat up bad guys and chase down villains all while wearing 3 inch heels and looking like super models.

I have come to realize that I am suffering from “Charlie’s Angels” syndrome. The “I can be all things to all people and look great while doing it” disease.

This disease only gets worse with age, the older we get the more we fight it, mentally and physically. We fight to retain our youth and stamina only to find it out pacing us further and further each year. Our 3 inch heals become flats, our nights out on the town are traded for little league games and school functions, and then comes the dreaded thank you “ma’am” by the young cashier at the supermarket.

But that’s okay, I have my mind, and as a good feminist would say it is all I really need. I have accomplished many things in my life and I have proven that I am not an idiot ( most of the time), which should be enough.

Unfortunately though, like beauty and youth, mental ability fades with age also and I sometimes struggle to remember where I parked the car and or what I came in the room for. I realized that you really can’t hang your hat on your mind either.

So what is it? What is left for us after our hair turns grey and time leaves its subtle changes on our bodies and minds?

The only thing I can think that is of real value of is our character and our reputation. What will people remember us by, or will they remember us at all. Will we be spoken of kindly or with contempt? Did we keep our promises? Did we live up to our obligations? Did we stand firm on principal? Did we fight injustices? Did we do the right thing?

Like beauty, society has also done a good job of skewing right and wrong. There is no longer good and bad. Black and white is now just grey and there are no longer clearly defined boundaries of what is right and what is wrong. Character has been replaced with self esteem and values such as honor, loyalty, and commitment are only spoken of in the Military.

So where does this leave me? Well, I will still dye my hair and will probably be on a diet for the rest of my life, but I will stand firm on matters of character and principal because when “anything goes” then “nothing matters“.

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For the Birds…..

I wish I could capture this moment and stay here forever. I am sitting on a deck in the mountains. Beside me is a river, it is  flowing low but it is making the perfect water trickling sound. The wind is blowing through the pine trees, the sun is bright, and everything  is green.
There are so many birds up here. There are Blue Jays, Cardinals, Robins and many brightly colored Finches. I have even been told that there is a Bald Eagle living about a mile up the river from us. I love watching the birds, each one is so uniquely colored, is specially made, one of a kind,  just like they way that God made us.
I often feel like a Robin trying desperately to be accepted by the Blue Jays. I struggle with fitting in to the status quoa. I would much rather be camping or fishing than at a fancy dinner or ladies tea. I have always been that way and no matter how hard I try to be someone I am not, I end up being just me.
Some situations have arose lately that has me questioning the importance of “fitting in”. Of course we all have to fit in sometimes and can’t run around speaking our minds or behaving inappropriately. What I am talking about is socially.
I was at a fancy fundraising dinner a week ago and it occurred to me that I didn’t belong there. The speakers were boring and the entire night was “we are so great, now give us more money”. My imagination tends to kick in  when in these situations,  probably to drown out the sheer boredom. I pictured the X-Men bursting through the glass wall of the Biltmore Hotel and the ensuing fight between good versus evil. I asked my husband what X-Men he thought would show up, he smiled and hushed me as he did not want others to hear. Eventually he gave in and picked the entrance he thought would best suit an X-Men battle.

I realized after that night that not only did I not belong there, I did not want to belong there. I thought about all of the times I tried to fit in when I shouldn’t have and how disappointed and hurt I was when things didn’t turn out like I had planned. I have thought a lot about it this week and then realized, at the ripe old age of 44, it really is not that important to fit in. (Took me long enough!)

Just like the Robin, trying to fit into a Blue Jays nest. It is simply not going to happen, and the Robin will probably get hurt trying.

I realized that God made me with my own special talents and abilities and that I need to stop wasting time trying to be someone or something I am not. I need to accept and embrace the person that God made, faults and all, because the me HE made, is the me HE WANTS me to be.

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